Auckland Catholic diocese will continue airing Sunday Masses on Shine TV until August 2 (Sunday), but had been invited to broadcast Sunday Masses to the end of the year.
Dame Lyndsay Freer, who is in charge of diocesan media communications, said viewer response to the Sunday Masses produced during lockdown had been very encouraging.
“We are having to decide whether we have the resources to continue every week (until the end of the year). The recorded Mass has to be of a high standard for national television. There’s a lot involved,” she said.
Dame Lyndsay said the diocese currently contracts a good videographer but, in order to have a good production of the Mass, they need priests and their congregation to be available for the pre-recording.
“We’ve been endeavouring to film these Masses at different parishes around the diocese, even as far away as the Far North, and with many priests, so that we can represent the ethnic diversity of our diocese,” she said.
Dame Lyndsay said she contacted Shine TV during the lockdown to ask how they (Shine TV) would feel about screening a Catholic Mass on Sundays.
“We’re very delighted with Shine’s generosity. They have made it very easy for us. They have given us a lot of help. They don’t charge for the time they’ve given us,” she said.
She said Shine TV even sent their own production crew to help out with the recording of the first televised Mass. “This has never been done before,” she said.
“They tell us that their ratings go up on Sunday afternoons. So, we’re very delighted to think that perhaps we might have contributed towards an increase in their viewers during that time,” she added.
She said the relationship is very positive, too, in terms of ecumenism.
Dame Lyndsay said Bishop Patrick Dunn and herself received a lot of messages of thanks and appreciation, particularly from older people who still don’t feel safe going to church.
“Some religious congregations have told me they have their Sunday lunch for the old people who can’t go to Mass, and then they gather round their big screen and they celebrate the Mass,” she said.
A shortened version of the Palm Sunday Mass was first aired on April 5 at 1.35pm on Freeview Channel 25 or on Sky Channel 201. The Sunday Mass had since been moved to the 2pm slot.